Rabbit Creek Hot Springs - page 2

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The area east of Olympic Pool comprises a collection of mud pots and small clear, opalescent blue or red tinted hot springs. Also a few small spouting springs can be found. The complex is known as Rabbit Creek Mud Pots, but actually the features are more paint pots than mud pots. It is dangerous to enter the thermally altered ground even if the crust looks solid because it can be fragile with scalding mud underneath.

Rabbit Creek Paint Pots Yellowstone
Rabbit Creek Paintpots, looking northeast

Samples collected in the early 2000s by George Rice et al. from acidic, muddy springs shown on the next picture yielded the hithero unknown Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral viruses, necessitating the establishment of the new genus Alphaturrivirus and even of a new family, Turriviridae. These double-stranded DNA viruses infect the archaea Sulfolobus solfataricus. The surface of their icosahedral shaped virions (virus particles) exhibits turret-like projections extending from each of the 12 corners of the icosahedron, hence the name component "turrivirus" (The structure of a thermophilic archaeal virus shows a double-stranded DNA viral capsid type that spans all domains of life, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 18; 101(20): 7716–7720).

Rabbit Creek Paint Pots Yellowstone
Rabbit Creek Paintpots, looking southwest

Rabbit Creek Paint Pots Yellowstone
The largest paintpot at Rabbit Creek

Even though it is not advisable to step closer to the features in center of Rabbit Creek Paintpots, there are some eye-catching springs accessible at the periphery.

Rabbit Creek Paint Pots Yellowstone
Spring at the edge of Rabbit Creek Paintpots

Rabbit Creek Mud Pots Yellowstone
A little "Tomato Soup" pool

Proceeding south in direction of the origin of Rabbit Creek south branch, you come across a few smaller features. One of them is a fumarole, stretching a strange, vibrantly orange colored sinter tongue out of its vent.

Rabbit Creek fumarole Yellowstone
Fumarole at Rabbit Creek

The two-part hot spring MNN017 is one of the main sources of the south branch of Rabbit Creek. Its deep vent on the south side acts as a bubble-shower spring and is also mentioned in T. Scott Bryan's book. Informally, it is called "Beetle Pool" because the orifice looks like it was formed by swallowing a Volkswagen Beetle.

Beetle Pool Rabbit Creek
"Beetle Pool" (MNN017), looking north

Another important source pool of the Rabbit Creek south branch is the breathtaking double-pool MNN018.

Rabbit Creek hot spring MNN018 Yellowstone
Hot spring MNN018

MNN019, a few feet east of MNN018, shows remarkable spouting activity. This feature is called "Wizard Spring" (UNNG-MGB-8) in T. Scott Bryan's book. It is one of a few springs in Yellowstone to show "flashing". Firehole Spring, Turban Geyser, and Flash Spring are further examples. For a fracture of a second a large gas bubble emerges from the springs vent into the pool and collapses almost immediately in the cooler water. Due to the reflection of sunlight the bubble shines brightly and causes the impression of a bluish white flash on the bottom of the pool.

Wizard Spring Rabbit Creek Yellowstone
"Wizard Spring" (UNNG-MGB-8, MNN019)

The most important geyser on location is Rabbit Creek Geyser, 40 m (44 yards) southeast of MNN019. Located in a subterranean cavern, it plays usually only a few feet high for every 20 minutes.

Rabbit Creek Geyser Yellowstone
Rabbit Creek Geyser

The hot spring runoff near Rabbit Creek Geyser originates from Scaffold Spring, marking the southeastern corner of the Rabbit Creek Hot Springs Group. Besides the downed and lattice-like arranged trees Scaffold Spring displays the color gradient from dusty pink to deep blue typical for many Rabbit Creek hot springs. It is also one of the best landmarks on a hike to the 200 m (220 yards) distant Rabbit Highland Hot Springs with their four so-called "Tomato Soup Pools".

Scaffold Spring Yellowstone
Scaffold Spring

On the way back to the highway along the south side of Rabbit Creek a number of additional spings can be seen, two of which are presented on the next pictures.

Unnamed Pool east of Rabbit Creek Yellowstone
Unnamed Pool east of Rabbit Creek

Located approximately 200 m (660 feet) south of Rabbit Creek and 100 m (330 feet) north of the hillsides that border Rabbit Creek Valley, MRCHSGNN150 may or may not be the feature informally called "Tuba Geyser" by geyser gazer Rocco Paperiello.

Rabbit Creek hot spring MRCHSGNN150 Yellowstone
Hot spring MRCHSGNN150

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